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Suppress Line Wrap?

In bash, the default when outputting to stdout is to wrap any lines 
wider than the console display.  Is there a way to suppress this?  
During script execution, I want certain lines to be overwritten.  This 
can be accomplished with the /r escape sequence rather than /n, but if 
the line is longer than the width of the display, it will still scroll 
the display.

On a related note, bash doesn't seem to be setting the $COLUMNS variable 
correctly in a sub-shell.  At the console, the $COLUMNS variable
contains the correct terminal width.  If I change the terminal width, 
the $COLUMNS variable updates accordingly.  If I run a bash script, 
however, this feature no longer works.  The $COLUMNS variable remains 
null no matter what I try:

killall -28 VDifferential
shopt -s checkwinsize

Neither works.  I checked, and the checkwinsize option is enabled, but 
the $COLUMNS variable remains null even if I re-size the window.

This is in a bash window in KDE4 under Debian Squeeze.

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